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Week 3 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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It's the second week of the season and you're likely recognizing the identity of your team. Are you destined to make a season-long comeback because you went heavy on Rangers players like yours truly? Or are you riding high because you loaded up on the right mix of sleepers and prospects like Lars Eller, Tomas Hertl and Sean Monahan? Regardless of your place in the standings right now, it's the newly aligned NHL and the most subtle of schedule trends can send you spiraling or soaring in one night.

NHL schedule

Three of a Kind

High Percentage Teams (weaker schedules)

The Isles (BUF, EDM, CAR) are as solid as anyone heading into this week's schedule when they play three opponents sporting a combined record of 3-8-3 headed into Saturday's (10/12/13) action. In addition to John Tavares (DDS), Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey look to keep the party moving all the way to Brooklyn.

Colorado (DAL, DET, @BUF) faces a schedule of teams (4-7-1) that are getting outscored 31 to 21 so far. Adding to that contrast, Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere have given up a total of three goals in four games this season.

Washington (EDM, NYR, CLS) and Montreal (at WPG, CLS, NAS) play a combined five of six from home against extremely under-performing teams as well.

In the meantime, you may want to avoid ...

Low Percentage Teams (tougher schedules)

Considering Jacob Markstrom's inability to put it altogether, that fuzzy feeling you had about Florida (at NAS, BOS, MIN) has likely died down with the news about Tim Thomas. No surprise they're getting outscored 21-13 in the early going.

At first glance, San Jose (at STL, at DAL, CAL) looks to be a good bet to stay hot this week. Look again and you'll see they travel for two of three, one of which will be the almost as hot Blues. Dallas' play has been unstable and Calgary's bottom could fall out, but something tells us Hertl and the Sharks will come back down to earth this week.

Don't misinterpret Carolina's (CHI, at TOR, at NYI) 2-1-2 record as well. Although Anton Khudobin (2-0, 1.50 GAA) has been quite stellar in his limited logged time, number one Cam Ward (0-1-2, 2.87 GAA) has been pedestrian at best. If Ward gets the nod for at least two of these starts, look out, Carolina could go from second in the Metropolitan to keeping the Flyers and Rangers company at the bottom.

Speaking of which ...

One Pair

Not only is their schedule almost exclusive to teams playing solid hockey, but players from New Jersey (at OTT, NYR), the Rangers (at WAS, at NJ), Philadelphia (VAN, PIT) and Calgary (at ANH, at SJ) will play just two games this week. Could this be the Sean Monahan train back to juniors? As old fashioned as we can be, we just can't seem them doing so, regardless of how the Flames play this week. Four games left and the clock is ticking.

Other pairs to consider:

Back-to-Back Jacks

In addition to all of the Four Aces (see below) playing on back-to-back nights once this week, these two teams are playing two of their three games on consecutive nights.

Thomas Greiss, G, Phoenix (OTT, at ANH, DET): For those (owned by 8% of CBS) considering picking up Greiss, you may hesitate when you see his opponent will either be the Ducks or Red Wings. As for Mike Smith's career numbers, in 13 games played against Anaheim, Smith is 8-3-1 (2.74 GAA), while in nine games played against Detroit Smith is 2-5-2 with 2.60 GAA.

Brian Elliott, G, St. Louis (SJ, at CHI, at WPG): Elliott had yet to appear in a game heading into Saturday's match-up with the Rangers. Head coach Ken Hitchcock is likely to give Elliott the nod against the weaker Jets and the white hot Jaroslav Halak against the cup champs, Chicago.

Four Aces

Raise (weaker schedules)

Detroit (at BOS, CLS, at COL, at PHX), Nashville (FLA, LA, at MON, WPG) and Vancouver (at PHI, at BUF, at PIT, at CLS) all play favorable four game schedules.

Daniel Alfredsson has 26 goals, 43 assists in 87 career games versus the B's. Alfredsson was kept quiet in last week's 4-1 loss in Boston, perhaps the second time in a week is the charm for the veteran Northeast rival.

Stephen Weiss has seven goals and five assists in 10 career games against the Avs.

There's always good old Pavel Datsyuk (goal, assist in four games), who has 173 points in 149 career games against this week's opponents.

One thing we love about Detroit's week is Jimmy Howard's career record (28-8-5, 2.23 GAA, 2 SO) against this week's opponents. How about even better news for Howard owners? He'll likely get three starts this week. Despite Jonas Gustavsson's fairly impressive career GAA (2.48) versus Boston, he's likely to draw the weaker Columbus team on Tuesday.

Fold (tougher schedules)

Minnesota (at BUF, at TOR, at TB, at FLA), Buffalo (MIN, at NYI, VAN, COL), Edmonton (at WAS, at PIT, at NYI, at OTT), Columbus (at DET, at MON, at WAS, VAN) and Dallas (at COL, SJ, at LA, at ANH) have busy but sketchy games likely to leave a negative impact on your week.

It's the regular season, so of course Niklas Backstrom (lower-body) is fighting a day-to-day injury. While Josh Harding has been solid in his two games since the Backstrom injury, his career record (19-42-6, 2.97 GAA) on the road is ugly, regardless of what team's he'll be facing this week. We'll leave this one up to you.

Offensively (9/11 GF/GA), things just are not panning out for the Wild, who have a four man log jam for scoring leader with three points, including Matt Cooke and Mikael Granlund. Perhaps Zach Parise's (three goals) Eastern Conference cred is still good, but we somehow doubt it.

It should be a telling week for Jonas Brodin (two goals, one assist), who will play in four arenas that he's stepped foot in.

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Player News
Marek Mazanec
Predators Recall Mazanec
Marek Mazanec, G, NSH
12:59 AM
News: The Predators have recalled Marek Mazanec from AHL Milwaukee, the team's official site reports.
Analysis: Marek Mazanec, who got some AHL work in during the NHL All-Star break, returns to the big club to combo with Carter Hutton, with fellow goalie Pekka Rinne still sidelined.

Andrew Ebbett
Pens Recall Ebbett
Andrew Ebbett, C, PIT
12:58 AM
News: Andrew Ebbett was recalled from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday.
Analysis: Andrew Ebbett was reassigned just before the All-Star break to get some extra work in, and has now been recalled along with two other forwards to provide depth with both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby expected to miss the first game of the second half. In his last game with the club Jan. 21, Ebbett managed to add another point to his total, giving him six on the season in 18 games.

Dion Phaneuf
Leafs' Phaneuf Week-To-Week
Dion Phaneuf, D, TOR
12:53 AM
News: Dion Phaneuf is week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
Analysis: Per the report, Dion Phaneuf sustained his injury prior to the NHL All-Star break, with the week-to-week tag suggesting that the blueliner will miss multiple games, starting with Wednesday's tilt against New Jersey. Another report indicates the injury may be an aggravation of a prior hand issue that was again bothered in last Wednesday's game against the Senators.

Matt Ellis
Ellis Recalled By Sabres
Matt Ellis, LW, BUF
12:35 AM
News: The Sabres have recalled Matt Ellis from AHL Rochester, the team's official site reports.
Analysis: Matt Ellis, who has recorded 13 points in 38 games AHL games to date, adds experience and depth up front, but he's off the fantasy radar in his depth role with the Sabres.

Matt Hackett
Sabres Recall Hackett
Matt Hackett, G, BUF
12:31 AM
News: The Sabres have recalled Matt Hackett from AHL Rochester, the team's official site reports.
Analysis: Matt Hackett will combo with Jhonas Enroth for the Sabres in the coming days, with fellow goaltender Michal Neuvirth currently sidelined by a lower-body injury.

Michal Neuvirth
Sabres' Neuvirth Sidelined
Michal Neuvirth, G, BUF
12:27 AM
News: Michal Neuvirth is dealing with a lower-body injury, the Sabres' official site reports.
Analysis: Michal Neuvirth suffered his injury "while working out during the All-Star break and will miss some time," GM Tim Murray relayed Monday. "He will not join the team for our trip out west this week," Murray added. With Neuvirth ailing, the Sabres have recalled fellow goalie Matt Hackett.

Kyle Okposo
Isles' Okposo Out 6-8 Weeks
Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI
12:17 AM
News: Kyle Okposo will miss 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury.
Analysis: Coach Jack Capuano delivered the news Monday, and Kyle Okposo's loss represents a major hit to the Isles' offense. The winger has recorded 14 goals and 44 points through 46 games to date, while working on the team's top line.

Nikita Jevpalovs
Sharks Sign Free Agent Jevpalovs
Nikita Jevpalovs, RW, PHI
12:16 AM
News: The Sharks signed Nikita Jevpalovs to an entry-level deal on Monday.
Analysis: Nikita Jevpalovs is having a great year in junior, playing for Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the QMJHL. He has 38 goals and 71 points in 45 games for the Armada.

Nikita Zadorov
Zadorov Suspended By Sabres
Nikita Zadorov, D, BUF
12:09 AM
News: The Sabres have suspended Nikita Zadorov for failing to report to the team on time following the NHL All-Star break, the team's official site reports.
Analysis: Nikita Zadorov, who has eight points in 34 games to date, shouldn't be out of commission too long, though. GM Tim Murray indicated that he expects the blueliner (who missed Monday's practice) to rejoin the team "at some point during this week's western road trip."

John Tavares
Isles' Tavares Lights Up All-Star Game
John Tavares, C, NYI
1/26/2015
News: John Tavares scored four goals in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Sunday.
Analysis: While it was Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen (two goals, two assists) who was named the All-Star MVP, John Tavares was easily the most dominant player out there. While the goals won't count in fantasy, it was just another fantastic outing for Tavares, who entered the break red-hot, recording six points in his last three games. With 21 goals and 45 points in 46 games, Tavares needs to be in your lineup when he returns to NHL action Tuesday vs. the Rangers. One thing to note, however, is that his talented linemate Kyle Okposo will miss 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury. While the loss will hurt the Isles, Tavares should keep producing at close to a point-per-game pace. His production might drop a tad, but we wouldn't worry, as he can make things happen all on his own.

 
 
 
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